Who is in the mood for healthy broccoli salad with sweet lemon dressing?
It's like your favorite potluck broccoli salad, but has more flavor and the dressing is quite a bit healthier than the traditional.
But trust me, you won't even know it.
How to make healthy broccoli salad
But let's not pretend. Broccoli salad is, in general, a healthy option because, well, you're eating broccoli! And the bulk of the salad contains said broccoli and other nutrient dense foods like nuts or seeds, dried fruit and produce.
Like any salad, the dressing can really jack up the calories if you're not careful, which is where this recipe comes in. Here are the ways I lightened up the dressing while maximizing flavor:
- Rather than using just mayonnaise to get a super creamy dressing, I swapped out about ¾ of it for regular plain yogurt. This gives the dressing that creamy texture, a little tang and a boost of probiotics and protein.
- I still kept some of the mayonnaise in there because, well, mayonnaise is pretty spectacular and it does have it's own unique texture that really cannot be replicated. And there's no sense in completely getting rid of it because you can still eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes mayonnaise. I promise.
- I cut back on the sugar (you can also use honey) immensely. Many of these types of dressings have A LOT of sugar, but this version really only needs a few tablespoons to balance out the tang and acidity of the other ingredients (I'm looking at you, yogurt, vinegar and lemon juice). Oftentimes we think of sugar as always a bad thing that needs to be completely eliminated from our diet, but that isn't true. Small amounts are perfectly fine, especially when consumed with uber-nutritious ingredients like broccoli.
- I used both apple cider vinegar and fresh lemon juice (and the zest!) because their flavors are uniquely impeccable and lend themselves well in this dressing. Both of these ingredients are also healthy options and make for THE BEST salad dressings.
Here are the salad ingredients:
- Broccoli - Simply grab a bag of the pre-chopped broccoli florets or grab a head and cut it into florets. Either works here.
- Red onion - Let's be perfectly honest: red onion has a place in recipes, but most people aren't interested in biting down on giant pieces of red onion that are bigger than their face, so I recommend mincing it up finely enough that it provides flavor to the dish, but it kind of hides behind everything else.
- Dried cranberries - I like to use the unsweetened kind, and if I can't find those, I use the reduced sugar variety. These babies add texture and chewiness to the salad, which pair nicely with the crunchy broccoli and crisp red onion. Plus, they're beautiful!
- Sunflower seeds - I honestly think almonds or pepitas or something would be great in this salad, but I like adding sunflower seeds for their nuttiness and texture. I personally like the lightly salted ones, but you can also use unsalted, of course.
And honestly, folks, that's all there is to it. No need to be fancy or add a ton of ingredients to this salad because it's dynamite as-is. And I know you're going to love the dressing. So go ahead and make a big batch to eat all week or serve at your next potluck/family gathering. You'll be the hero.
Recipe Substitutions and Alterations
- For the broccoli: Use cauliflower or a combination of broccoli and cauliflower.
- For the red onion: Use a shallot if you don't have any red onion on hand.
- For the sunflower seeds: Try with sliced almonds or pepitas instead.
- For the dried cranberries: Try with dried cherries instead.
- To make this gluten free: This recipe is gluten free. Be sure all packaged ingredients are gluten free.
- To make this dairy free: Try with dairy free yogurt.
- To make this vegan: Try with plant-based mayonnaise and yogurt (although I haven't tested this). Use granulated sugar instead of honey.
- To make this nut free: This recipe is nut free. Be sure all packaged ingredients are nut free. (Be aware there are sunflower seeds in this recipe if you have a sunflower seed allergy.)
Some other fabulous salads I think you'll love:
- Green Bean Potato Salad
- Kale & Crispy Chickpea Caesar Salad
- Spinach Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
- Carrot, Chickpea & Raisin Salad
- Greek Salad with Feta Vinaigrette
- Also, here are my best tips for making your own salad dressings!
Healthy Broccoli Salad with Sweet Lemon Dressing
Your favorite broccoli salad recipe with an upgraded and lightened-up dressing that's to-die-for!
- Prep Time: 15-20 mins
- Cook Time: 0 mins
- Total Time: 15-20 mins
- Yield: Serves 6 1x
- Category: Salads
- Method: No-Cook
- Cuisine: American
For the dressing:
- ½ cup plain yogurt (Greek or regular)*
- 2 tablespoons honey or granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
- ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
For the salad:
- 2 medium heads broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- ¼ medium red onion, peeled and finely diced
- ½ cup roasted sunflower seeds
- ½ cup unsweetened dried cranberries
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar or honey, mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
- In a large bowl, toss together the broccoli, onion, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries. Toss with the dressing and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Variation Tip: Swap out half of the broccoli for chopped cauliflower.
Cooking Tip: I like using regular plain yogurt vs. Greek for this, but Greek is fine! It's just a different consistency. And actually, I used Greek when I filmed this video, so it's totally fine if you use it, too.
- Serving Size: ⅙ of recipe
- Calories: 139
- Sugar: 8g
- Sodium: 208mg
- Fat: 9g
- Saturated Fat: 1g
- Unsaturated Fat: 8g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 13g
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 4g
- Cholesterol: 3mg
Keywords: salad, no-cook, no cook, vegetarian